Notes to broadcasters on imports of GM maize

    | July 11, 2011

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    In 2010, the Kenyan government enacted a law approving the import of genetically modified (GM) products. The law was enacted subject to a go-ahead from the National Biosafety Authority (NBA), which gave its approval this week. The green light from the NBA has sparked protests from Kenyan environmental groups and farmers. They maintain that the impact of GM products on human health and the environment is still unknown. The activists and farmers support agro-ecological farming practices and call on the government to do likewise. Although this law specifically covers the import of GM maize for human consumption, activists fear that genetically modified seeds will enter the seed system, and that acceptance of GM crops will undermine Kenya’s seed sovereignty in the longer term.

    Here are some links to further information and related stories:

    -‘Kenya under fire for allowing import of GMOs’ http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000038325&cid=4&ttl=Kenyan%20under%20fire%20for%20allowing%20import%20of%20GMOs

    -‘Kenya approves law to allow GM crops’ http://af.reuters.com/article/kenyaNews/idAFLDE7630C720110704

    -‘Kenya opens up to GMO crops in war on hunger’ http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Corporate+News/Kenya+opens+up+to+GMO+crops+in+war+on+hunger/-/539550/1194564/-/kp49w2/-/

    -‘Kenya to import 4 million bags of maize by December’ http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/kenya-to-import-4-mln-bags-of-maize-by-dec-govt/

    Broadcasters can check these sources for updates in the coming days and weeks.

    Here are some recent Farm Radio Weekly stories about GM crops:

    Uganda: Farmers’ groups reject genetically engineered seed (FRW 158, June 2011) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/06/06/uganda-farmers%E2%80%99-groups-reject-genetically-engineered-seed-daily-monitor/

    Burkina Faso: Organic cotton under threat from GM cotton (FRW 152, April 2011) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/04/11/burkina-faso-organic-cotton-under-threat-from-gm-cotton-by-inoussa-maiga-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-burkina-faso/

    East Africa: Field trials of GM maize to begin (FRW 132, October 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/10/25/east-africa-field-trials-of-gm-maize-to-begin-reuters-peace-fm-online-new-agriculturist/

    Kenya: Groups protest import of GM maize (FRW 109, May 2010)http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/05/03/3-kenya-farmers%E2%80%99-groups-protest-import-of-gm-maize-business-daily-daily-nation-kenya-biodiversity-coalition-food-first/

    This topic is hotly debated. Proponents state that the facts are clear, and that GM products are safe, while opponents believe that further tests and information are needed. You may wish to gauge opinion among your listeners. Find out whether local or regional governments have information about GM crops and where they stand in the debate. Present information and quotes from all sides of the debate. You could then host a call- or text-in show, basing your questions on whether GM seeds and produce have a part to play in national food security.